When it comes to mixing business with philanthropy, Michigan State University alumnus Ingrid Saunders Jones (College of Education ‘69), is a global leader. It was only fitting that she would be a recipient of the Alumni Service Award at the Grand Awards Gala earlier this year, nominated by none other than Sanjay Gupta, Dean of the Eli Broad College of Business.

Dean Sanjay Gupta and Ingrid Saunders Jones

Dean Sanjay Gupta and Ingrid Saunders Jones pause to take a selfie at the Grand Awards Gala

The Alumni Service Award is presented to those who have demonstrated outstanding continuous volunteer service to MSU and/or meritorious public service on a local, state, national or international level. These awards recognize alumni who are doing wonderful things and making an impact daily in their companies, communities and at Michigan State University.

After graduating from Detroit Public Schools and then moving on to graduate from Michigan State with a B.A. in Elementary Education, Saunders Jones taught in Detroit and Atlanta before moving to the Coca-Cola Company in 1982, where she would later become the head of the Coca-Cola Foundation. Before retiring from her role as Senior Vice President of Global Community Connections at Coca-Cola and Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation in 2013, Jones was tirelessly committed to education and community outreach.

Saunders Jones played a key role in the transformation of the company’s philanthropic outreach, growing a U.S.-focused program into a global campaign that has awarded more than $500 million to thousands of community organizations and sustainable community initiatives. She also lead a collaboration between The Coca-Cola Company and MSU in 2009 to improve the global sustainability of product packaging. Coca-Cola awarded $400,000 to MSU to help establish a new Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability.

“Over the past 30 years, I have been grateful to work for a company that commits the talent and time of its employees and its philanthropic dollars to issues and organizations that empower and enhance the lives of others,” said Saunders Jones. “I’m proud of the work of the Foundation and believe deeply in the people and communities we’ve served around the world. I am fortunate to have worked with extraordinary leaders, community supporters and caring and committed associates.”

Saunders Jones’ commitments to philanthropy and furthering education extends beyond her professional work and into her personal life. In 2007 she created a $1 million endowed scholarship, the Ingrid Saunders Jones Endowed Scholarship Fund, within the Eli Broad College of Business that continues to help to support students who need financially support. The award also supports the Multicultural Business Programs in the Eli Broad College of Business. Additionally, she has led the First Generation Scholarship Program, which has helped enable more than 1,200 students to become the first member of their families to attend college. Jones has also received a number of humanitarian awards, including an honorary doctorate in the humanities from MSU.